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Ecology and salmon related articles

Terns will be Shooed from Rice Island

by Bill Monroe
The Oregonian, February 23, 2000

Oregon wants to maintain the momentum to keep Caspian terns from feasting on young Columbia River salmon and steelhead.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a plan to renew last year's successful efforts to repel terns from Rice Island during the spring nesting season.

Rice Island, upriver from Tongue Point, was formed in the 1970s from river-bottom dredge spoils and became a favorite nesting spot for terns, which lay eggs on shallow, exposed nests. The island also is in an area where most of the Columbia's young salmon and steelhead hang out on their way to sea, adjusting to their new life in salt water.

After millions of juvenile fish began falling victim to the terns each year, state and federal agencies mounted efforts during the past few years to attract the terns to East Sand Island, which is closer to the river's mouth. There, the birds fish for a more varied diet, one that takes fewer salmon and steelhead.

Terns avoided Rice Island in 2000, and state officials in Oregon and Washington want to keep it that way.

A court order prohibits the federal government from participating in the tern relocation project, but Oregon is not included in the injunction. State biologists plan to replace torn netting and other devices on Rice Island that discourage terns from using their former nesting areas.

Work will be banned after the terns return and begin nesting in April.

"We don't want to lose ground," said Ed Bowles, fisheries chief for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Biologists hope to repeat the success of last nesting season on East Sand Island and eventually to encourage the birds to nest on Washington coastal bays as well.

Related Sites:

Bill Monroe
Terns will be Shooed from Rice Island
The Oregonian, February 23, 2000

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